We had a positive parenting expert speak to our MOPS group last month. She opened with a visualization exercise. I don’t like these types of exercises mainly because I don’t like being told what to do or keeping my eyes closed. But since I’m the lead coordinator for our group, I wanted to set a good example. I closed my eyes and played along.
“I want you to picture what it’s going to be like to bring your baby to kindergarten one day,” she said. “Focus on the joy and excitement in that moment. See the little wave he gives you on your way out.”
“Now I want you to see your child at her tenth birthday party. All the siblings are getting along. You’re holding hands with your husband as she blows out the candles. What does your heart feel in this moment?”
“Now you’re watching her grab her diploma, and walk across the stage. You catch her eye from where you’re sitting and she pumps her fist in the air, in victory. Focus on how proud and joyful you feel.”
“Now you get a phone call. He could have told anyone but he called you first. ‘Mom, I’m in love,’ he says, ‘I think I’m going to marry her.’ Your eyes go soft and your smile grows wide. Focus on the joy of that moment.”
“Now picture the twinkle in your daughter’s eye, when she rubs her barely rounded belly and tells you you’re going to be a grandma. Your heart is nearly bursting. Think about how you’ll feel in that moment.”
The tears gathering in the corner of my eyes surprised me. I’m not a crier, and I’m more of a thinker than a feeler. I stole a glance at the thirty other moms in the room. All of us were misty-eyed and more than a few of us were wiping away tears. “Why are you teary?” I chided myself, “Get a hold of yourself!”
Later, when I had a chance to analyze my puzzling emotional reaction, I realized that most moms of young children don’t spend a lot of time picturing the future. We’re too busy in the very pressing needs of the present. It’s hard to think past whatever trench you’re in:
You think you’ll never get another night of uninterrupted sleep…until one day, you do.
You think you’ll always be nursing….until one day, you stop.
You think you’ll be changing diapers forever…until one day, you’re not.
You’re sure you’re going to be strapping toddlers into car seats for the rest of your life… until one day, you don’t need to.
Don’t get me wrong, moms are great at looking forward to the next milestone: I can’t wait until (fill in the blank). But actually picturing your family life several years in the future proves to be a deeper, more reflective exercise that we rarely make time for. What do you want your family culture to look like down the road? How do you want your kids to interact with each other, with you, with the world around them? Painting this mental picture can help you focus on the values that are right for your family NOW, even in the trenches.
If you’d like to parent more intentionally, I made a four page guide and a beautiful template for you to create your own family manifesto! Click the button below to get this free download!